• Miami-Dade School Board District 3: A Clash Of Political Ambitions 

    June 14, 2024
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    In the highly competitive race for Miami-Dade School Board District 3, five candidates are vying for the opportunity to lead and shape the future of education in the district. With the election scheduled for August 20th, tensions are rising as the candidates strive to make their mark and secure the coveted position. However, the situation has been complicated because three contenders are current or past politicians, two of whom should have to resign from their current positions to run for this office, and another who has a contentious history with the Miami-Dade School Board. 

    The Miami-Dade Home Rule Charter has inadvertently created a situation where candidates can exploit loopholes in the system, raising concerns about the integrity of the electoral process. The current Attorney for the City of Doral, Josef Geller, and the Mayor of North Bay Village, Brent Latham, are both running for Miami-Dade School Board District 3. According to the Home Rule Charter, Geller and Latham don't have to resign  their current positions to run for the school board because of a technical oversight in the Charter. Most other offices at the County level require current officeholders to resign before running. 1 However, their decision to remain in their respective offices has sparked debate about whether they are genuinely committed to the betterment of the school district or merely using this opportunity to advance their political careers. 

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    Complicating matters further is the candidacy of Martin Karp, who served on the Miami-Dade School Board for 16 years, starting in 1996. During his tenure, teachers received minimal increases in pay and benefits, while the School Board instituted testing that consumed nearly 20% of instructional time in the classroom. Karp's decision to run for the school board comes after the state enacted a 12-year term limit for School Board members, which commenced in 2023. While his candidacy is technically legal, many argue that it violates the new law's intent, as Karp could potentially serve on the Board for nearly four decades if re-elected. 

    This race has ignited a heated debate about the role of politicians in shaping the future of education in Miami-Dade. Some argue that the presence of current politicians in the race demonstrates a lack of commitment to the education system and raises questions about their true motivations for running.   

    The controversy surrounding the Miami-Dade School Board District 3 election has also highlighted the need to reevaluate the Miami-Dade Home Rule Charter. The loopholes exploited by the candidates have cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Charter in ensuring a fair and transparent electoral process. As a result, there has been a growing call for amendments to the Charter to prevent similar situations from arising in the future. 

    To address the concerns surrounding the Miami-Dade School Board District 3 election, this investigative reporter contacted the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections (SOE) to seek clarification. However, the SOE's office stated that their function was only ministerial, and they were not tasked with verifying or enforcing the eligibility of candidates. Instead, the reporter was referred to the Miami-Dade County Commission of Ethics and the State Attorney's Office to file complaints for the alleged violations. 

    Upon contacting these two agencies, it became evident that although everyone attempted to help, no one could. The Ethics Commission tried to assist us, while the State Attorney's Office suggested that the reporter act as an investigator rather than taking any action on their own. 

    This investigative journey has led to an unsettling conclusion: not only are elections insecure on the voting side of the equation, but they are also insecure on the candidate side. The lack of oversight and enforcement in the eligibility of candidates has allowed political elites to exploit loopholes in the system, effectively preventing rank-and-file citizens from having a fair chance at achieving elected office. This situation further reinforces the perception that the political elites consider ordinary citizens "unwashed," unworthy of participating in the democratic process. 

    As the race for Miami-Dade School Board District 3 continues, it is crucial for the public to remain vigilant and demand transparency and accountability from their elected officials. The integrity of the electoral process depends on the ability of all citizens, regardless of their background or political connections, to participate in shaping the future of their communities. It is only through collective action and the insistence on fair elections that the voices of the people can be genuinely heard and represented. 

    In conclusion, the race for Miami-Dade School Board District 3 has become a microcosm of the broader issues facing the education system in the district. The presence of current politicians, some of whom should have resigned from their positions, and a former board member who appears to be circumventing the intent of a term limit law has raised questions about the integrity of the electoral process and the commitment of these candidates to improving education in the district. As the election approaches, it remains to be seen whether these concerns will be addressed or whether the candidates will continue exploiting the system's loopholes. Regardless of the outcome, the race for Miami-Dade School Board District 3 has undoubtedly shed light on the need to reevaluate the Home Rule Charter and ensure fair representation in the education system. 



    Douglass Ross

    Douglas J. Ross is originally from Wisconsin and is a long-time resident of Miami, Florida. He is a veteran Navy pilot from the Cold War period, having graduated from the US Naval Academy. After retiring as an international airline Captain, he now works as an Investment Advisor and also volunteers with Patriotic groups like the Convention of States and the Association of Mature American Citizens. In his free time, he enjoys writing.

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